It would be an immense understatement to say the Kelly Walsh High School Class of 2020 graduation ceremony, held in the Casper Event Center parking lot Thursday evening, was unlike any other.

Just ask Principal Michael Britt.

Typically, school administrators and students anticipate the "anxiousness of a rehearsal." Administrators would issue students guidelines on where to park. They would remind students that no cell phones are permitted."

"We would have reminded you that we don't decorate our caps at Kelly Walsh," Britt said during Thursday's ceremony. "So here we are, keeping you in the parking lot, streaming the ceremony on your cell phones, and encouraging you to decorate your caps tonight. "

The Kelly Walsh ceremony was the first of three such events to be held in the Casper Events Center parking lot in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students from Roosevelt High School and Natrona County High School will get their sendoffs in two ceremonies Thursday evening.

Instead of being packed closely together in a traditional ceremony, students and their families stayed in their cars as the ceremony was broadcast on a large video screen, streamed online and aired on the radio.

Addressing the ceremony, Kelly Walsh graduate Andrew Brown said had someone told him four years ago that Thursday's ceremony would look the way it did, he would have called them crazy.

But here we are.

For Brown and his classmates, the pandemic was further proof that the Kelly Walsh Class of 2020 was among the most resilient to pass through the walls of the school.

"Nothing can take away the magic that we have been able to make inside the walls of Kelly Walsh High School," Brown said. "Especially not a pandemic."

Calling the unusual ceremony "the elephant in the room," Kelly Walsh graduation Rachelle Trujillo said she was tired of her class being treated with "pity and constant reminders that we're, for whatever reason, different or special.

"I want to feel like a high school senior doing this one last normal high school senior thing. So let's do it. Let's be normal high schoolers again. Instead of sob stories, let's talk about the best parts of high school."

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